Her beauty was more than skin deep.
UK woman Hannah Betts, who suffered from a rare disorder in which her skin grew too fast for her body, tragically passed away this week from cancer. She was 32 years old.
“I still don’t think I can believe she’s gone,” the deceased’s older sister Lucy Betts, 35, who has the same condition, told South West News Service of the tragedy.
Hannah, who lived in Great Yarmouth, England, had been suffering from harlequin ichthyosis, an incurable genetic disorder in which the sufferer’s body grows too much skin.
The debilitating dermal disease — which affects one in around 300,000 people — causes infants to be born with thick, scaly skin covering most of their bodies, MedlinePlus reported.
Not just a cosmetic problem, these abnormalities disrupt the skin’s protective barrier, making it difficult for infants to control water loss, regulate their body temperature and fight off infections. As a result, around half of all affected babies die within their first few months.
In order to prevent a life-threatening infection, Hannah and Lucy were forced to undergo painful preventative measures growing up, including daily two-hour bathing and skin creaming marathons, according to a documentary by the YouTube channel Our Life. Meanwhile, the outer layer of their rapidly replenishing peel had to be scoured off their bodies twice a day to prevent it from cracking — a process that both girls dreaded.
Along with harlequin ichthyosis, Hannah also suffered from cerebral palsy and lived at an assisted-care facility.
Despite their hardships, Lucy said that sharing a condition with her sister “made our bond so strong.”
“We went through a lot together that we couldn’t explain to anyone else,” the bereaved sibling fawned. “I knew exactly how she felt.”
She added, “She stayed with me for the last couple of years. My whole life revolved around her.”
Hannah also never let her disease dampen her love of life.
“Music was Hannah’s biggest passion,” gushed the siblings’ mother, Jan Betts. “She loved singing and dancing.”
Lucy added, “She made me laugh like no one else could. She loved everything pink and sparkly.”
However, while certainly a happy soul, Hannah was also brutally “honest” and wouldn’t hesitate to inform you “if your bum looked big in something,” her sis recounted.
She also didn’t tolerate any guff from gawkers. “If we were out and someone made comments about us, then Hannah would tell them in no uncertain terms to go away,” Lucy said.
Things took a tragic turn in 2021 after Hannah was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma and was forced to undergo chemotherapy and immunotherapy. A year later, she was hospitalized with COVID-19.
And while the brave patient recovered from the coronavirus, she eventually succumbed to the cancer.
Lucy was devastated over the loss of her sister, saying: “Sometimes I want to see her so badly that I feel I can’t breathe. It’s a very big roller coaster of emotions. It’s really hard.”
Their father, Clive Betts, 66, said of his “inspirational” daughter, “She fought bravely and unfortunately her little body just couldn’t take it anymore. As her father I’m so proud of her.”
Hannah’s mother added, “She will be so sadly missed by so many people.”